Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles

An electric vehicle is an automobile which utilizes electricity that has charged a large battery to run the vehicle. There are two types of electric vehicles:

BEV: Battery electric vehicles utilize a battery to power the vehicle's motor. The battery is charged mostly through plugging into a charging station either at home, work or in a public area; regenerative braking also provides a minimal charge as the vehicle transfers energy from the vehicle's forward movement to the battery as the vehicle slows down. According to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), 80 percent of EV charging takes place at the owner's home, 15 percent at work and 5 percent at a public charging station. Public charging stations can be most easily found via smartphone apps.

PHEV: Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a smaller battery that supplements a traditional internal combustion engine to power the vehicle. Most PHEVs can drive between 20 to 40 miles on a single charge, which means most vehicle owners can utilize the battery power for their daily commute and local errands. Once the battery is drained of power, the engine takes over until the battery can be charged again.

There are also hybrid vehicles on the market, which cannot be plugged in, but utilize a battery powered by regenerative braking and coasting to support the internal combustion engine, which improves the vehicle's overall miles per gallon (mpg) rating.

A Charger for Every Co-op

A Chevy Volt charges on one of Dairyland's
charging stations at its Administration Building in La Crosse. 
A Level 3 fast charging station was added to the lot in 2019.

In 2018, Dairyland Power Cooperative offered each of its 24 local member distribution cooperatives a Level 2 electric vehicle charger as part of its overall incentive program. 

Initiatives to install more chargers along major highways are helping alleviate “range anxiety” (fear of being stranded with a dead battery because the distance to your destination is beyond the range of your battery’s charge). The greater distances between destinations in rural areas is a common reason why many electric cooperative members hesitate to own an EV. Local electric cooperatives are a driving force to ensure new technology is not limited to more densely populated metropolitan areas. The availability of chargers at each local electric cooperative creates awareness about EVs and expose members to the possibilities of the technology.

Level 2 chargers add about 20 miles of range for every hour of charge. While that's not fast, the program will promote EV travel between member cooperatives and enhance awareness for their consumer-members.

Consumers may qualify for a federal tax credit up to $7,500 when they purchase an EV, and – in 2019 – a $200 rebate from their local electric cooperative’s incentive program toward the purchase and installation of a charging station at their home. They should also talk to their cooperative about the possibility of receiving a reduced (off-peak) electricity rate for enrollment in a load management program. Load management allows the cooperative to shift vehicle charging to the times when electricity is less expensive (usually evening and overnight). 


Consumer-members interested in furthering their commitment to “go green,” can also request to be enrolled in the electric cooperatives’ green power program. Evergreen Everywhere participants can offset their vehicle charging use with four 100 kWh blocks of renewable energy each month.

Other regional highlights include:

  • Barron Electric (Barron, Wis.) was the first of Dairyland’s member cooperatives to install a charger at their main office. Employees observed the charger being used within two hours of installation by an EV owner on the way to their cabin.

  • Barron has also hosted Member Ride & Drive events where members can test-drive the Cooperative’s Chevrolet Bolt.

  • On Sept. 6, 2018, the first fast charger in western Wisconsin was dedicated at Ground Round in Tomah (Oakdale Electric's service territory). The unit is part of a ZEF Energy charging hub, which allows three EVs to charge at the same time. The station includes one DC fast charger and two Level 2 chargers. The DC fast charger provides 200 miles of battery range for every hour the vehicle is plugged in; the Level 2 chargers provide 25 miles of battery range for every hour the vehicle is plugged in.

  • During National Cooperative Month (October), St. Croix Electric (Hammond, Wis.) hosts a drawing for a member to take home the Cooperative’s Chevrolet Bolt for a weekend to test drive. Members share details of their experience with the EV, which are published in the monthly member newsletter for all to read.

  • Jackson Electric (Black River Falls, Wis.) opted to install their Level 2 EV at the Ho-Chunk Gaming Casino.

Touchstone Energy Fact Sheets
Nuts & Bolts of an Electric Vehicle
Nuts & Bolts of a Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle
EV Overview
Is an EV Right For Me?